Circulating neurofilament light in ischemic stroke: temporal profile and outcome prediction

Journal of Neurology
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Pedersen A, Stanne TM, Nilsson S, Klasson S, Rosengren L, Holmegaard L, Jood K, Blennow K, Zetterberg H and Jern C

J Neurol. 2019 Aug 2. doi: 10.1007/s00415-019-09477-9. 

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Neurofilament light chain (NfL) is a marker of neuroaxonal damage. We aimed to study associations between serum NfL (sNfL) concentrations at different time points after ischemic stroke and outcomes.

METHODS:

We prospectively included ischemic stroke cases (n = 595, mean age 59 years, 64% males) and assessed outcomes by both the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) and the NIH stroke scale (NIHSS) at 3 months and by mRS at 2 years. In a subsample, long-term (7-year) outcomes were also assessed by both mRS and NIHSS. We used the ultrasensitive single-molecule array assay to measure sNfL in the acute phase (range 1-14, median 4 days), after 3 months and 7 years in cases and once in controls (n = 595).

RESULTS:

Acute-phase sNfL increased by the time to blood-draw and highest concentrations were observed at 3 months post-stroke. High sNfL associated to stroke severity and poor outcomes, and both associations were strongest for 3-month sNfL. After adjusting for age, previous stroke, stroke severity, and day of blood draw, 3-month sNfL was significantly associated to both outcomes at all time points (p < 0.01 throughout). For all main etiological subtypes, both acute phase and 3-month sNfL were significantly higher than in controls, but the dynamics of sNfL differed by stroke subtype.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results from this study inform on sNfL in ischemic stroke and subtypes over time, and show that sNfL predicts short- and long-term neurological and functional outcomes. Our findings suggest a potential utility of sNfL in ischemic stroke outcome prediction.